The American Kennel Club registers around a million purebred dogs in the United States each year. The United Kennel Club registers about 250,000 purebred dogs annually. Sporting dog registries and other registries register thousands of other purebred dogs each year. So, what is a purebred dog and why are they so popular?
The short answer is that a purebred dog is a dog that “breeds true.” Two Poodles will always produce a litter of Poodles. There won’t be any other kind of puppies in the litter. All of the puppies will look and behave like Poodles their entire lives. Many people like that dependability. They want to know that when they get a Poodle puppy there won’t be any unpleasant surprises.
There’s nothing wrong with surprises but when it comes to adding a dog as a member of your family, there are people who prefer to know what they’re getting ahead of time.
When people breed together a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle to create a litter of Labradoodles there are a lot of unknowns. These hybrid dogs are very popular but they aren’t a breed for several reasons. The puppies may resemble their Labrador parent or they may look like their Poodle parent. They may have curly hair like an ungroomed Poodle or they may have straight hair like a Lab. Or, they may have wavy hair, as in a combination of the two breeds. What’s more, if you breed two Labradoodles together you may not get a puppy that looks like a Labradoodle. You can get puppies that look like Labradors or puppies that look like Poodles. In other words, Labradoodles are not a breed because they don’t “breed true.”
Poodles, however, will always produce more Poodles. Labradors when bred to another Labrador, will always produce Labradors. It doesn’t matter if you breed a Labrador from the United States to a Labrador from Russia. They are the same breed and they will produce more Labradors. The resulting puppies will look and act like Labrador Retrievers because the share the same original ancestors who had the same original breed traits.
Most purebred dogs were originally bred from a collection of dogs with a specific trait of set of skills. Greyhounds and Salukis have been around for thousands of years. They developed from Middle Eastern sighthounds that were long, lean and fast. These dogs excelled at catching prey. People took care to breed together the best hunters and the fastest dogs to produce even better dogs. When breeders focus on breeding for such traits generation after generation a breed is created that reproduces those abilities in the puppies.
Contrary to popular belief, breeders have always paid some attention to the looks of the dogs they were breeding. Breeding for appearance is not a modern phenomenon. The Chinese produced many breeds of dogs from the small dogs of Tibet, including both the Pekinese and the Pug. Pugs were prized for their wrinkles even in ancient times.
Early gun dog breeders believed that it was important for their dogs to be handsome as well as functional. Many hunters still have a saying: “Life’s too short to hunt with an ugly dog.”
When it comes to getting a dog many people prefer a purebred because they know what they’re getting. They know how the dog will look when he’s grown. They know how much he will weigh. They know how much grooming will be required. They know what, if any, health problems they might encounter. They know who the parents are and what kind of health testing the breeder has done. They know the temperament of the breed. These are all excellent reasons for getting a purebred dog.